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Dutch mull radical cash for kidneys plan

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Dutch health minister Ab Klink is mulling a Dutch Health Council recommendation to offer "free health insurance for life to anyone who donates a kidney for transplant", the Sunday Times reports.

The plan is a reponse to the Netherlands' "chronic shortage" of organ donors, which means around 200 people die every year while on the four-year waiting list for a new kidney.

According to a survey by the Erasmus medical centre in Rotterdam, the idea would attract "significant support" from the public. It discovered that "15 per cent of the public said they would probably be willing to donate a kidney if they received compensation".

Regarding this "compensation", the survey also found that when potential donors were quizzed as to whether they'd like €50,000 cash or the medical insurance, "up to 80 per cent chose the insurance".

Dr Alies Struijs, the author of the Dutch Health Council's report, did the maths thus: "At the moment everybody pays €1,000-€1,100 [£700-£800] a year for basic health insurance. If you are 30 years old and you donate and then live another 40 years, you could save €40,000-€50,000."

Bernadette Haase, the director of the Dutch Transplant Foundation, welcomed the idea, saying: "If it is properly run and well organised, it could be a solution."

The Dutch press, however, has expressed concern that the scheme might be "the first step towards a trade in human organs". Critics have cautioned that it "may put pressure on poorer people to give up their organs". ®

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